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PS3 Hacked? 296

Several readers have sent word that George Hotz (a.k.a. geohot), the hacker best known for unlocking Apple's iPhone, says he has now hacked the PlayStation 3. From his blog post: "I have read/write access to the entire system memory, and HV level access to the processor. In other words, I have hacked the PS3. The rest is just software. And reversing. I have a lot of reversing ahead of me, as I now have dumps of LV0 and LV1. I've also dumped the NAND without removing it or a modchip. 3 years, 2 months, 11 days...that's a pretty secure system. ... As far as the exploit goes, I'm not revealing it yet. The theory isn't really patchable, but they can make implementations much harder. Also, for obvious reasons I can't post dumps. I'm hoping to find the decryption keys and post them, but they may be embedded in hardware. Hopefully keys are setup like the iPhone's KBAG."
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PS3 Hacked?

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  • Cheating (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Monday January 25, 2010 @07:35AM (#30888202) Journal

    I guess the main reason for this will be so you can play pirated games. Homebrew is already possible on PS3 and lets not kid ourselves, piracy is always what these things are mostly used for.

    But even more worrysome is if this enables complete access to system and memory, cheating will become a problem. For example 360 hack isn't the same, you can't run your own code or modify memory on it - it merely allows you to play pirat^H^H^H^H^H backups. This will be a lot more serious hack.

    I usually play on PC, but when I'm playing on PS3/360 I like that I know there aren't cheaters. While packet-modifying is theorically possible if there isn't any encryption or checksums in the network data, cheating on consoles is a lot smaller problem than on PC and some types of cheats (wallhacks etc) are impossible to create without direct access to memory and code.

    And I'd like to keep it that way.

    • Re:Cheating (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @07:44AM (#30888250)

      A lot of lessons have been learned from the original Xbox days. By the end, essentially you couldn't get online without the original dash and a retail game, which limited hacks to whatever you could do with game saves or screwing with the downloaded content. Those are relatively easy to police. I imagine Sony will be keen to do something similar, and set up their servers to dropkick anyone who logs in with an unapproved configuration.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 )

      Here's an adage that I like to bear in mind:

      If you choose to trust your client, then you are planning for failure, because any successful client application is going to get hacked.

      I guess it's a simple economic calculation: by the time your client has a large enough userbase that someone takes the time to hack it, you've already made your profit. Screw anyone who buys it after the client is owned - they should have got in at launch.

      • Re:Cheating (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Hardhead_7 ( 987030 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:29AM (#30888492)
        Oh, sure, that's probably true. But if it's made difficult enough, and the vendor is vigilant for hacking, it can be made almost impossible. Take the 360, where just a couple months ago a ton of hacked consoles were banned from Xbox Live forever. Most people just don't bother with hacking because they know that one day Microsoft might bring the hammer down on them for online play. And it works. I have several friends who pirate practically all the media they consume, but they have vanilla unmodded Xboxes and buy their games. Why? Because Microsoft's anti-piracy and anti-cheat has been overall successful, and really the only way you can cheat on Live is with a lag switch, and even that is harder now since most games let people boot obvious cheaters. What has been said in jest many many times here, I say with a straight face. I, for one, welcome our new online game overlords. I don't play online PC games anymore because of all the cheating issues. There are sooo many less cheaters on Xbox it's a whole different world.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rogerborg ( 306625 )

          Mmm. What the XBox Ban-a-Thon shows us:

          1. Microsoft had to punish up to 1 million of their own customers...
          2. ...some of whom had already been punishing their other customers by 'sploiting...
          3. ... the ban was worked around within weeks [google.comk]...
          4. ... and in future, we can expect all hacks to be stealthy and more robust.

          I'm sure it's working out for Microsoft financially, but they'll always lag behind the exploits while trying to secure the client or play whack-a-hack.

          • Re:Cheating (Score:5, Insightful)

            by nxtw ( 866177 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:08AM (#30890202)

            Microsoft has been banning Xbox 360s for years.

            The process for "fixing" a banned Xbox 360 console involves cloning the NVRAM from another Xbox 360. That's hardly working around a ban.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ehrichweiss ( 706417 ) *
              Mod parent up! I was going to say the same thing. I hadn't heard of a workaround and upon reading the links realized it was the same as I'd read before: you're cloning a non-banned box so that *it* gets the chance to be banned soon.
    • Re:Cheating (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @07:46AM (#30888260)

      No access to the GPU before this!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xous ( 1009057 )

      Of course! Why didn't the they think of this before?

      I mean -- it's brilliant -- vendors restricting our use of our property for our own good, the good of the collective users, or maybe just the good of their bank accounts.

      They should do this on cars too. Vehicle manufactures should come equipped with GPS based governors, alcohol detection, sex detection, and reckless driving detection straight from factory. This could even be extended to manual shoulder checks , cellphones, smoking, eating, talking, and ev

      • Re:Cheating (Score:5, Funny)

        by Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:43AM (#30888582)

        Vehicle manufactures should come equipped with GPS based governors, alcohol detection, sex detection

        Just for the record, are we talking:
        a) I'm detecting you're receiving a blowjob while driving, so I'm just going to pull over for a bit
        b) I'm detecting you're a woman, so I'm limiting top speed to 50(kph, not mph) or simply not starting at all

        Besides, this is /., neither will happen all that often anyway...

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          b) I'm detecting you're a 16-35 single white male, so I'm limiting top speed to 50(kph, not mph) or simply not starting at all

          There. Fixed it for you.

      • Re:Cheating (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @09:09AM (#30888730)

        Jesus Christ, he's not coming out in support of locked-down hardware, he's just pointing out that in principle (as has happened on previous occasions) breaking a console can lead to a wave of shitheads ruining your gaming experience. That's a trade-off that's worth debating.

      • Re:Cheating (Score:5, Informative)

        by MidnightBrewer ( 97195 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @09:18AM (#30888796)

        Sony is perfectly fine with you running software sold for the PS3; that's how they make their money. Hacking it so that you can give that software away isn't in their best interest, so they build in DRM. The Windows comparison doesn't hold water in this case.

        It keeps their developers happy and maintains a semblance of sanity on their system. It's ugly, but seeing that its main purpose is to be a gaming system, it does the job. They don't stop you from remotely streaming or locally playing any kind of media; you're free to knock yourself out. Heck, they even support DivX.

        Given a choice, Sony would rather restrict their infinitesimally small Linux base because, quite frankly, nobody really cares. People who are bloody-minded enough to use them as a processing farm are more curiosities than mainstream, and I'm sure that serious efforts, such as by universities and the like, get one-on-one support from Sony if they want it.

        Linux users on the PS3: zero profit. PS3 gamers on the PS3: the whole reason the system was made. I think that the line of reasoning is pretty straightforward here.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Sony is perfectly fine with you running software sold for the PS3; that's how they make their money.

          Right now, Slashdot is running an article about the use of game-oriented rapid application development environments to boost students' creativity and critical thinking skills []. Microsoft has the XNA framework on which such an environment can be built. What does Sony have in order to train students to eventually develop for its platform? VAIO?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by kyrre ( 197103 )

            You could use PhyreEngine [] and a debug PS3. I think they cost about twice that of a normal PS3.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MikeBabcock ( 65886 )

          Its also worth pointing out that the PS3 will even let me rip a CD down to high quality AAC from its drive and then copy it onto my MP3 player or a USB stick. They're not exactly being evil here.

      • Re:Cheating (Score:5, Insightful)

        by darkmeridian ( 119044 ) <william,chuang&gmail,com> on Monday January 25, 2010 @09:22AM (#30888826) Homepage

        There is a point to limiting certain products so they function as a level playing field. PC gaming is frustrating because of wallhackers and morons with aimbots. Console gaming is preferable because it's generally difficult to hack the system. Limiting products increases the value it has.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          PC gaming is frustrating because of wallhackers and morons with aimbots. Console gaming is preferable because it's generally difficult to hack the system.

          The problem with console gaming comes when almost no games are designed to be legitimately modded by players. Without legit modding, there would be no Counter-Strike. Sony consoles have RPG Maker 2 on PS2, LittleBigPlanet on PS3, and then what else?

    • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:03AM (#30888360)

      You can't access some of the hardware, particularly the GFX from an "Other OS" and the new slim models don't even support the Other OS option, so no, this is not just for cheating and piracy and there is no current way to run homebrew well.

      We can even run linux better in a hacked system as currently the graphics performance is pretty dreadful. There is far more to life than piracy and cheating. I welcome this development.

      Helll, I'd welcome it even if there were few to no forseeable applications, just the opening up of a new computer platform...

      • by Nikker ( 749551 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:52AM (#30888636)
        Hell a box like that with Linux and Cedega you would have a pretty cheap kick ass HTPC that could run a few PC games as well. Video transcoding, ripping, HDMI, ability to play almost any format of audio/video, really good processing power for the price, maybe I should get a job selling these babies. At the end of the day Sony is pissed because of their narrow minded approach that their game sales will tank but if enough of these things are hooked up to enough TV sets they will have a new opportunity maybe even roll their own OS that people actually want to use. Sony can put a pretty penny into R&D for a new OS / UI that could be pretty enough and they can sell you bits and bytes all day long. This is really what evolution/revolution is all about, sometimes they drag us kicking and screaming sometimes we do the same to them.
        • No Cedega for you! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:59AM (#30888672)

          Sorry, but Wine and its derivatives can only ever work on x86 hardware (or hardware with x86 compatibility) as I understand it. You can move binaries between OS's by emulating.intercepting.translating system calls, but not between architectures.

          It would need native linux games to be compiled for PPC, preferably designed and built specially for Cell hardware.

          • No, you can't. You can move it between OSes by wrapping system calls, no emulation is involved. Different OSes on the same architecture have access to more or less the same set of instructions, differences between specific chips not withstanding.

            Emulation only comes into play when you need instructions that are not available at all on a given architecture or that for one reason or another differ.
          • by Nikker ( 749551 )
            Most games are already abstracted through DirectX anyway so they don't directly rely on the hardware to begin with (hence why you can run the same game on ATI/Nvidia). Since they have already figured out most of the calls (enough to make many games work) adapting to a new architecture isn't really all that bad. Especially if Cedega runs on the kernel and stock libraries it will make the transition all that much easier.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by cbhacking ( 979169 )

            Wine is actually working on getting support for other architectures (ARM is the one I noteced), presumably either to add support for WinMo apps on Android or similar (WinCE API is a bit different from Win32, but not extremely) or to support compiling a Win32 app for Linux on ARM.

            That said, the gist of your post is completely correct. For now, at least, Wine would be completely useless on the Cell or any other PPC-based processor.

    • Re:Cheating (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dasuser ( 1173323 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:06AM (#30888374)

      I guess the main reason for this will be so you can play pirated games. Homebrew is already possible on PS3 and lets not kid ourselves, piracy is always what these things are mostly used for.

      You're forgetting one thing - homebrew is possible, but access to the 3d hardware is disabled so that unofficial software can't compete with official games. That, combined with the removal of the ability to even use a 3rd party operating system in the new hardware revisions, is a rather compelling reason to hack the PS3.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AuMatar ( 183847 )

      You can easily cheat anyway. Just use a gateway between your PS3 and the internet. Then you can alter the packet data to your heart's content. See an enemy? Have the program on the gateway auto-aim for you by changing your target coordinates. If you're counting on the platform to stop cheaters you'll be very disappointed. I'd be quite shocked if such programs don't already get used, I know they existed for past platforms.

      • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) *

        .. which I did mention in my post, but seriously that is a lot smaller problem and available for lesser users than on PC, where you just download a hack from internet and run it. However, only having access to packet data does remove some kind of cheats, like wallhacks for example.

        Also theres a significant technical challenge to do live packet-modifying between PS3 and Internet. If someone is doing it, they probably are also capable of being subtle enough with their hacking. The major assholes running aroun

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      PPC Linux 2d Homebrew was already possible on PS3 until Sony removed it.
      More power to the people bringing real cpu and gpu power to the ps3 box you own.
      Thank you smart computer people.
    • Re:Cheating (Score:5, Informative)

      by jbssm ( 961115 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:40AM (#30888546)
      No it's not. In this case there is a very valid reason to hack the PS3. Linux with full access to the hardware! So far you couldn't use the GPU and you where only using a small part of the CPU processing power. Now imagine having this great multiprocessor architecture completely unlocked for you to program it. These are great news.
    • Re:Cheating (Score:5, Informative)

      by ninjakoala ( 890584 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @09:03AM (#30888698)

      Actually there is no longer any way to run homebrew on PS3, unless you manage to run it as BD-Live content from a disc somehow (like BluTV).

      With PS3 Slim the ability to run "Other OS" disappeared with Sony citing costs to maintain the feature as the reason to kill it off.

      The homebrew option was never really that interesting as (like others have pointed out) there was no direct GPU access and there was no option to VSYNC, which makes for horrible media playback.

      While both PS3 and 360 have reasonable video playback features, we all know they come nowhere near the power of XBMC and similar solutions. If you only want one device under your television and would prefer not converting/transcoding everything, this hack might well end up being very useful.

      I certainly hope to add XBMC functionality to my PS3, because now that the Slim is out, it's pretty easy to move around the house and hook up to and old device (easier than moving my 360s).

    • So I take it you have no issues with all of the MW2 problems that are simply a result of poorly tested code? For as long as I have played online glitchers have been far worse than actual hackers because the barrier to entry is the 30 seconds it takes some ass on a message board to explain how 1337 they are.
    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      Limited (ie crippled) homebrew was possible on the fat PS3 before this...
      You could run Linux, but not get access to the GPU which somewhat limits the usefulness of the system (ie no 3d games, no opengl, high definition media playing becomes harder and more cpu intensive, and interfaces have more lag).

      The slim PS3 (assuming this has been hacked too) doesn't even allow this limited access.

    • Homebrew is already possible on PS3

      Sony has dropped Other OS as an option on the PS3 Slim and all future PS3 releases.

      Plus, as it stood the Other OS setup only let you run crippled OSes that didn't have full access to the hardware.

      What I want? Something that has full control. Something that can run with full access to all the hardware, something that can then be set up to actually stream datafiles correctly and play them natively (All the UPnP crapservers have to render the file "locally", eating up resou

    • by kwandar ( 733439 )

      "I guess the main reason for this will be so you can play pirated games. Homebrew is already possible on PS3 and lets not kid ourselves, piracy is always what these things are mostly used for."

      I'm fairly new to the PS3, but I can already see a use for this. I'd like Disney Singstar music for my 4 year old (Singstar is karaoke for PS3), but the only Disney Singstar available is PS2 and region locked outside of North America. Ohh .. and maybe others like me have a PS3 slim that won't allow Linux? And the

    • Thank you sir! May I have another?

  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Monday January 25, 2010 @07:45AM (#30888256) Journal

    This whole DLNA (DNLA?) rubbish is gross, it's so backwards.
    I don't want to transcode, I just want a damned good media centre (and a gaming machine!) the XBMC devs had started considering work on the PS3 a long time ago but then Sony closed the loophole to access the video card under linux (or rather accelerated mode?) so it was scrapped.

    The PS3 is a fantastic chunk of hardware and while I'd really rather not get banned from their system as I have no intention (or time anymore) to pirate games, I'd love to see the machine play back stuff a bit better. (it does fairly well now but it's nothing on XBMC)
    The machine has 256mb of system ram, does 1080p output, optical output, 7.1 dolby hardware, wifi, hard disk, USB 2.0, gigabit networking - it's more than enough to do HD XBMC.
    Fingers crossed in 12 to 18 months time there's some kind of news.

    • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) *

      I know it isn't really the same, but those looking for one, mkv2vob (PS3 Video Converter) [] is a really nice tool to convert 720p mkv files to format that PS3 supports. Usually you don't even need to transcode, so it takes like 1 minute per video file.

      avi/xvid files work directly.

      To stream them from computer, TVersity [] is the best one.

      Once you get those set up, it's actually quite nice and convenient. PS3 software and menu is actually really nice for media center, a lot better than 360's. Again not probably th

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TheBiGW ( 982686 )
      This already exists. XBMC has been ported to Windows, MacOS and Linux. A small nettop like the Asrock ION 330 is smaller and quieter than either the XBox 360 or the PS3 and is more than capable of playing back high def content.
      • I have exactly that setup. The Asrock box is a fantastic little bit of kit and it runs XBMC like a dream.
      • I bet the Asrock is AWESOME! However I don't see an Asrock in my loungeroom.
        I see a PS2, PS3, XB1 and XB360 - the XB1 was one of the best electronics purchases I've made in my lifetime, incredible little machine.
        I'd love to see the PS3 get the same kind of longetivity.

        • I see a PS2, PS3, XB1 and XB360

          Can I come over?

          I'll bring the cheesy poofs and a six-pack of Yuengling.

    • Mods on crack, parent is not offtopic.

      I too was saddened when I found out that the supposedly Linux-friendly PS3 was going to be hypervisored up to the wazoo - I've been a Sony boycotter for years but I was seriously considering forgiving them if I got a reasonably flexible machine that would run my beloved Myth.

      Alas, it didn't and when XBMC ported itself to everything and became seven kinds of awesome the disparity between the various "multimedia frontend" attempts on current-gen consoles and your plain ja

  • RSX in Linux? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Arakageeta ( 671142 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:10AM (#30888396)

    Linux on PS3 for non-scientific work has been a disappointing experience. There is very little code out there that uses the SPUs (and the PPU stinks for general purpose computing) and the hypervisor prevents hardware accelerated graphics.

    While the first issue has to do with the community, the second is a restriction imposed by Sony. Perhaps this hack will make it possible to use the RSX (PS3's hardware graphics) in Linux? Maybe then an SNES emulator will run better on a PS3 than a second-gen iMac.

    What is the Linux community's willingness to embrace a hack such as this?

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      You say 'linux community' like it's a corporation. The 'linux community' doesn't have an opinion on -anything-. Individual members of the community have the full range of opinions.

  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:16AM (#30888438)
    The hack apparently involves pressing up, down, left, right, X, and O in pairs.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @08:40AM (#30888554)

    Before anyone goes "oh, this is only so people can play copies and cheat".

    Read the other comments. See what people would like out of their PS3. They want to do "real" homebrew software, with full hardware access instead of the castrated version Sony "allows". They want to use their PS3 as a Media Center, something that's simply impossible with the current setup.

    Give the people what they want and they will not crack your hardware open. Sure, some will do it for the "going to the moon" reason (it's there, and we can), but most will want their box to do what they want to do. If the box does it, no hacking will happen.

    I modded my old XBox. Why? Because I wanted to run XBMC. It wanted a way to stream my movies on my HD to my TV easily. The XBox was there, a TV card for my computer wasn't (the SVideo output was really crappy), so it was a no brainer that I'd want my XBox which had logically a good TV compatible output to do the trick. It didn't do it out of the box, so it was modded. Oddly, I never bought a single game ever since, wonder why that could be...

    Bottom line, when people "hack" a platform, they will of course strip all copy restriction as well, simply because it limits the ability of the box and it's possible. If you want to keep your users from hacking their box, give the box any ability your users might want to get out of it.

    • If I could use the full capabilities of the PS3 in Linux, I'd have bought one long since. If I could have XBMC with Blu-Ray support running on the PS3's OS, likewise. I do have an Xbox 360 even though you can't do these things, but I bought it used. I'd likely buy a new PS3; I'd certainly want a slim one.

      • by Narishma ( 822073 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @09:04AM (#30888702)

        Sony doesn't really care about all of that. They only care if you buy PS3 games as everything else will lose them money. If you buy a PS3 and use it as a computer or HTPC or whatever, they lose money on it. Only by selling games for it do they actually make money.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          Only by selling games for it do they actually make money.

          I bought a used Xbox to use it for a media center, and would up buying half a dozen new games and about that many used ones. The new games are sales Microsoft would not have made if not for the existence of XBMC. In addition, the consoles are now sold at a profit, however slight, and add to sales figures which corporations and fanboys alike love to announce.

          So, while this part of your comment is accurate, the rest is nonsense. Getting the console into my house is a way to sneak games in there, too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TeknoHog ( 164938 )

          If you buy a PS3 and use it as a computer or HTPC or whatever, they lose money on it.

          So why did Sony enable the installation of Linux or other OSes on the non-slim version? Even without the GPU, it has turned out an incredibly powerful computer for some uses. Some research groups use a cluster of PS3s for scientific work, for example.

        • Perhaps that means they need to get a reasonable business model? I mean if that's they're business model then they really need to just accept that a lot of the units are going to cost them money, rather than play the anti-trust game and see how much they can damage their merchandise before being sued.
          • They do accept that the units will cost them money because they know they'll make up that money in game sales. We pay a lower cost for the actual machine because they expect us to buy games. If everyone bought the machines but no one bought games they'd have to raise the price of the console, probably to the point where it'd be no more attractive to you then a regular computer. It's not like they advertise it as an open platform and I don't think anyone who has ever been to an arcade or owned another con

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          They only care if you buy PS3 games as everything else will lose them money.

          Who makes the PS3 games? And how did they learn to make the PS3 games?

    • I'm all for this hack and opening the platform up, but it's already a great media center IMHO.

      Just load up some UPnP/DLNA software (some are mentioned up-page, I use MediaTomb) and browse your media straight from the PS3 XMB interface. We use it all the time.

      yes, it could do with some more formats supported, but it's pretty good on most stuff.

    • by DrXym ( 126579 )
      I'm sure some people would like to run homebrew on a PS3 just like they want to run homebrew on a DS or PSP. But these people are a tiny fraction compared to what the modded firmware would mostly be used for - piracy.

      I think if Sony were smart (and it doesn't happen often), they'll bring back Linux on the PS3 and open up the GPU a bit more. Linux is perfectly adequate for homebrew applications while still preventing users from running pirated games. If they can tell homebrewers apart from pirates they hav

    • They want to use their PS3 as a Media Center, something that's simply impossible with the current setup.

      I'd argue that the PS3's broad format support and network share support makes it into a pretty good media box, probably intentionally to remove the incentive you describe for people to hack their machines.

    • "give the box any ability your users might want to get out of it"

      that sounds great in theory, but only if you ignore the users that would want some sort of ps3/ fleshlight hybrid, ick.

  • at least the ps3 lets use your own HDD unlike m$ that bans you if you use there own disk and not there $149.99 160gb disk. they also ban for 3rd party memory cards as well.

  • Cool... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PinchDuck ( 199974 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @10:05AM (#30889246)

    It will be very cool to have full system access to the resources of the PS3. Also, I know that the Cell itself has security baked into it. Does this imply that the cell itself has been compromised? I know that the two events are unrelated, but shame on you Sony for removing the Other OS option from the Slim. Why take away the coolest part of the system?

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.